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re­leased 4 Oc­tO­ber 15 | 93 min­utes

Di­rec­tor Masaaki Yuasa Cast Gen Hoshino, Kana Hanazawa, Hiroyuki Yoshino, Keiji Fu­ji­wara

An­ime it may be, but this off­beat film feels re­mark­ably close to one of the ur­bane com­edy-fantasy books by Terry Pratch­ett or Tom Holt. It’s a se­ries of be­guil­ingly weird and mad­cap ad­ven­tures set in the ven­er­a­ble Ja­panese city of Ky­oto, drawn in an art­fully loose, whim­si­cal style.

Over a very long night, a hap­less young man en­coun­ters di­vini­ties, magic books, fairy­tale feasts and rogue the­atre com­pa­nies. All the while he’s chas­ing a hero­ically un­flap­pable girl who’d im­press Pratch­ett’s Granny Weather­wax. This is a Ja­panese A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream, with some of the li­bid­i­nally-frus­trated farce of Scors­ese’s Af­ter Hours. Bits of the com­edy feel Python-es­que (there’s even a silly walk), but it’s still nearer Pratch­ett than Terry Gil­liam.

The film is linked to an ear­lier an­ime se­rial, The Tatami Galaxy. It’s not a se­quel, and the main char­ac­ters are new, but there are enough cross­over jokes and walk-ons to make it like one of the later Dis­c­world nov­els. It’s ac­ces­si­ble to newcomers, but they won’t get all the gags, even if they can keep up with the sub­ti­tles. There are other is­sues, like a saggy end­ing that’s more of an over­long coda, but this re­mains highly en­joy­able, if very un­usual. An­drew Os­mond

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